It’s Earth Month and the Non-GMO Project holds a “Non-GMO challenge” to encourage consumers to support a healthier food supply. Shoppers can now choose among over 15,000 ‘GMO Free’ products (according to the Non-GMO Project) on the grocery shelves and the numbers are on the rise among both natural channel and conventional brands. What does this mean for USDA Organic label products, traditionally the gold standard among health-aware consumers? It may signal a need for additional consumer and retail shopper education about the merits of buying Organic for people and the planet.
According to the USDA Blog, Organic 101: Can GMOs Be Used in Organic Products? The use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is prohibited in organic products. No matter where it was grown, if a product has the USDA Organic label on it, it wasn’t produced with GMOs.
This GMO trend was tracked in the 2014 Market LOHAS (Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability) MamboTrack Annual Survey that revealed Non-GMO topped Organic as a key factor in brand choice. The Study found that 80% seek out Non-GMO products and 56% rated Non-GMO as very important to brand buying versus 52% citing Organic. This marks the first time Non-GMO was rated above Organic in purchase intent.
The burgeoning growth in Non-GMO products mirrors a growing public awareness due in part to Non-GMO product promotions and ballot box initiatives around GMO labeling. Natural & Organic brands and healthy product retailers from Whole Foods Market to health & natural food stores and conventional supermarkets are responding to healthy shopper demand for Non-GMO by expanding their selection, promoting and featuring Non-GMO products and labeling.
The LOHAS Research Study found that Organic product purchasing is also on the rise among health savvy consumers and 2 in 3 say Non-GMO was a key motivation behind their organic buying along with healthier, better for their family & safer for the environment. 3 in 4 consumers want to see GMO products labeled and over half buy or have switched brands due to Non-GMO. Consumers are also voting with their wallet with over half willing to pay more for Non-GMO certified products.
Looking ahead, providing health conscious shoppers with more education and values around ‘better for you’ and Organic product choices may be the key.
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